This gratitude-a-thon is dedicated to my girl Jess, who moves into her dorm at Boston College today, and is about to take the world by storm!
You have everything you need to have the happiest life. Always remember your roots, as you have many that go deep and wide. But because of that, remember that you can fly high and far. Study, but don’t forget to stop and smell the beer. Spread your particular brand of joy around. The campus will be better off with the likes of you on it.
Lastly, the couch is always here. The blankets, the pillows, and a family that loves you. Now go. And be exceptional.
As I wait impatiently for Jake to take to the college launch pad (it’s still two weeks away, will this never end), I have been reviewing my parenting over the years and wondering if I hit the high spots well enough to be confident that he’ll know what to do out there on his own (in particular, out there in Barcelona, biggest party city in the world, from what every single person I have spoken to about Barcelona, says. EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON.) This lead me to think about the really most important stuff I think taught my kids. Or, let’s just be real, that I think I taught them, but they may think I never mentioned.
1. Do your best. I have always told my competitive kids that all they had to ever do is their best. I mean, can you do better than your best? No, no you can’t. So, if you’re doing your best, then that’s all you can do and whatever the result, is the best result you could get. You know, because it’s your best. There’s nothing more to say here, is there?
2. Be nice. Gosh being nice is a good thing. I can’t believe how grateful I am when someone is nice to me. Even people I know well. Being nice can help you make friends and keep them. It can help you get a job and excel at it. And at the end of the day, it can help you feel like you’ve made the world a little bit better. Because you have.
3. Be polite. A cousin of “Be nice,” being polite wins points all over the place. Say “please”, say “gracias.” Shake someone’s hand. Send a “thank you” note. These things still matter. A lot, in fact.
4. Be a leader. Don’t follow the pack, unless the pack is doing something you think is really smart, or right, or good. Stand on your own two healthy feet, use your own unique and sensible brain, and make smart, good decisions. And then, you be the leader.
5. Be generous and help out. The world is full of people who need more than they have. I say, give what you can, in time, in money, in empathy. Lending a hand, can change someone else’s path for the better. It can also change your own path for the better, too.
6. Be optimistic. You might as well. What have you got to lose by looking at the bright side? This doesn’t mean, be ignorant. It just means to believe good things can happen. They can.
7. Be resilient. Maybe this is the most important of all the things I tried to get into my kids. This is one of the big ones to master. How do you get through the rough times? When you feel squashed by any number of things, and like you want to hide behind the shower curtain in the bathroom indefinitely, what do you do? You step outta that bathroom and take a step toward the next thing. Nothing lasts forever, not even the good stuff, unfortunately. So when a tsunami hits, you have to ride out the rough wave, tumble, churn, and then get up and walk your pretty self down the beach afterward. Life is good at throwing us curve balls. It’s fine to feel down, just so long as you don’t stay there. Shake it off. Learn how to push the forward button and move on.You will have to do it a bajillion times. Know that you can do this. Know you possess the strength. Know it will always get better.
Of course, there’s other stuff I tried in vain to teach them–clean your room, put your dishes in the dishwasher not the sink. Put your clothes in your dresser, and not on the floor of your room like a rug. Think. Turn off your fucking computer and the stupid TV once in a while and read a book. Listen to music. Dance. Exercise. Go to the beach. Laugh as much as humanly possible every single day. Call your mother.
The truth is, I’ll be grateful if they learned even one of these things, right? Barcelona, here he comes. Ready, or not.
I read about all the strife in the world and something in me shifts off. I quickly click to another story, not allowing the full impact of so much bad news to influence my day. What are we doing to each other? For all the good I choose to seek, there is an overwhelming amount of bad shit going on out there.
Here are a couple of the headlines on the Huffpost:
Verdict is clear: Assad has used chemical weapons.
Fukushima Operator calls for Help As Crisis Worsens
Daniel Hernandez Jr., Intern Who Helped Save Gabby Giffords, Faces Anti-Gay Smear Campaign
Wow, and that’s just three of the hundreds. I guess we all have to filter, or get under the covers. I always wonder how it is we teach kids to play nice, to use their words, but ultimately in the big world of politics, we don’t do that, instead turning to high and low tech weapons and man to man combat.
I choose to limit my consumption of the positively terrifying stuff that’s occurring. That doesn’t mean I will ignore it, but that I will make a decision about how much of it can penetrate me. I think if I didn’t do that, I’d sink to the bottom of the pond. I guess there is a reason People Magazine (and Hotdogs or Legs) exist.
It’s’ overcast today. And my mood seems to be following suit. While I spent a virtually perfect beach day at Crane’s with Peter, Ally and her friend Sydney yesterday, today I woke up with yucky feelings about Jake leaving in two weeks and Jessie, his girlfriend of three years, who I love and adore, leaving this Thursday.
I have never been good at saying goodbye. It tinkers with my balance, and swamps me with emotions that are big as a small midwestern farm. I have no talent here.
I keep wondering if I spent enough time with Jake. Did I teach him all he really needs to know? Did I instill the right stuff, or will he only remember the dribble?
The waterworks are on.
God dammit, I hate the end of things. And I especially hate the time just before the end of things. This is an exciting moment for Jake and Jess, and I have to force myself to look forward and not backward. I will work on that today. Grateful that I will get through it. And that they will, too.
I saw “Blue Jasmine” this weekend–Woody Allen’s latest. I enjoyed it mostly because Cate Blanchette’s performance was just insane. She was incredible in every way. I didn’t think it was a particularly great story, but it’s worth seeing to watch this performance.
This is an interesting article on the the costume designer, Suzy Benzinger. I did notice how spot-on Cate’s clothes were, in terms of the classics that make up an upper East Side lady who lunches.
I love movies. Every aspect. Yes, even the clothes.